JIMMY VASSER, Izod IndyCar KV Racing Technology team co-owner and past CART Champion, won the 34th Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race Saturday noon at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He won from the pole position, and was one of six Pro drivers in the 19-car field. His Margin of Victory ahead of Drift Champion TANNER FOUST was 0.645 seconds. Not surprisingly, Vasser also turned the fastest race lap of 1:46.150/66.743 mph. He said “It was hard not to be competitive.”
Vasser donated his winnings to Painted Turtle, one of PAUL NEWMAN’s Hole in the Wall Gang camps for terminally ill children. It’s located in the California desert.
The Celebrity class was won by BRIAN AUSTIN GREEN, who finished third overall, after qualifying third in class and ninth overall. Green is mostly known for his TV acting, but he also produces TV and makes movies.
Fourth through sixth were Pro MARTY NOTHSTEIN, followed by Celebrity drivers movie actor ADRIEN BRODY; and Celebrity Pole Sitter/TV & movie actor and producer ZACHARY LEVI, who had donated his $15,000 People Pole award to Operation Smile.
Levi was jumped at the start by Brody, who learned his lesson last year. Brody said “I was hyper-alert” and went as soon as he saw the Green Flag. Levi said “I lost it right away, so I didn’t have to worry. I think ‘Chuck’ (a TV character Levi plays) would have won. I didn’t win.”
Seventh through tenth were Pro STEVE MILLEN, and Celebrities PATRICK WARBURTON, ADAM CAROLLA who obviously followed his pre-race regimen; and DAVE PASANT.
The race ran 13 laps this year instead of the usual ten, due to cautions – like the green white checker finish in NASCAR. All fifteen finishers of the 19 drivers were on the lead lap.
It came as no surprise that all drivers didn’t finish the race. The surprise was that so many were able to keep going after the spins, bumping, hitting, etc. Winner Vasser was hit several times by Foust. Brody described it as a car graveyard out there, and Vasser said he thought it was dangerous to leave the abandoned cars on course. But…no one was hurt.
Years ago in a Pro/Celeb, the diminutive PAUL WILLIAMS was a Celebrity driver. His number was 1/2 and he kept hitting the walls. Race day some prankish SCCA corner workers posted a sign where he had hit. “Don’t worry, Paul. We’ll make more. Signed Toyota.”